GNP members express concern for possibilities of “public opinion turning against the current government,” while DP members say, “everyone knows what caused this tragedy”


» Police cordon off the incense burning place for the late former President Roh Moo-hyun from citizens at Duksu Palace, a center of Seoul on the night of May 23.

Political parties are in shock about the news of former President Roh Moo-hyun’s suicide on May 23. The ruling Grand National Party (GNP), the main opposition Democratic Party (DP), and other minor opposition parties, all convened meetings of high ranking members yesterday, but have been reserved in their public responses out of concern for political backlash.

The GNP has expressed both shock and embarrassment. Cho Yun-sun, the GNP spokesperson issued a statement, saying, “We feel so sad about the fact of the former President’s sudden death.” GNP Chairperson Park Hee-tae cut short his visit to Australia and returned to South Korea by dawn on May 24. Chairperson Park reportedly said, “The news is so sad and shocking.” The GNP convened a Supreme Council meeting to discuss how to handle the current situation, and asked the government to pay respects at Roh’s funeral. Some Supreme Council members, including lawmaker Jung Mong-jun, went to Busan University Hospital personally in order to attend the funeral service.

The GNP has also taken note of the political ripple effects Roh’s death has created. It is worried that people may see the death of former president as a form of political retaliation. A GNP Supreme Council member said, “It is so heartbreaking. The fault of the former president was problematic, however, the current president should also reflect on himself.” The member expressed concern that the situation could now develop into a “controversy of political retaliation.”

Another high ranking GNP official said, “The investigation of the former president was unreasonable, and people have no other choice but to think critically of the current government that offered its tacit consent.” He added, “Hereafter, public opinion may turn against the current government.”

Meanwhile, a sorrowful and enraged DP has been busy taking countermeasures. DP Chairperson Chung Sye-kyun presided over an emergency meeting held at 11 a.m. on May 23, and went to Busan University Hospital to attend the funeral service. DP Spokesperson Kim Yu-jeong said, “We cannot stand the sorrow, and the shock we feel is beyond description. The people and history know what made the former president do something so tragic.”

Many DP lawmakers share in the thinking that the investigation could have caused the incident, however, have restrained from uttering such political remarks. A DP official said on this matter, “Everybody know what caused this tragedy, however, it is not good for us to act so noisily.” The DP called for lawmakers who are currently abroad to return to South Korea as soon as possible. Incense for the former President burns at every DP members office.

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